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A theory of pragmatism holding that ideas and theories are instruments that function as guides for action or prediction, their validity determined by their degree of success rather than any criterion of truth.


1. (Philosophy) a system of pragmatic philosophy holding that ideas are instruments, that they should guide our actions and can change the world, and that their value consists not in their truth but in their success
2. (Philosophy) an antirealist philosophy of science that holds that theories are not true or false but are merely tools for deriving predictions from observational data


(ˌɪn strəˈmɛn tlˌɪz əm)

a variety of pragmatism maintaining that the truth of an idea is determined by its success in the active solution of a problem and that the value of ideas is determined by their function in human experience.


a pragmatic philosophy holding that it is the function of thought to be a means to the control of environment, and that the value and truthfulness of ideas is determined by their usefulness in human experience or progress. — instrumentalist, n., adj.
See also: Philosophy
the concept that ideas and thoughts are instruments of action and that their usefulness determines their truth. — instrumentalist, adj.
See also: Ideas
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.instrumentalism - a system of pragmatic philosophy that considers idea to be instruments that should guide our actions and their value is measured by their success
pragmatism - (philosophy) the doctrine that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge and meaning and value
References in periodicals archive ?
I then briefly describe the historical correlation between instrumentalism and copyright expansion (Part IV).
The effects of these combined pressures was to create not only tensions but also a climate of instrumentalism and cynicism in which they felt they were being turned into 'exam factories'.
If the tone and terminology now seek greater consensus than before, it is with the aim of winning larger stakes in an ongoing struggle to resist the encroachment of economic instrumentalism into one of the few realms where knowledge for its own sake--and cultural criticism--have traditionally been valued and protected.
And if it sounds a bit too familiar, it is yet another example, Potter says, of how the industry's ever-present "swirling spin machine" is largely responsible for the legislative instrumentalism which, for better or worse, has characterized the evolution of our highly fragmented health care system.
4) Other approaches to the issues of Hindu-Muslim divide are to be found in the traditions of essentialism, instrumentalism constructionism or institutionalism.
It stands as a powerful critique of liberalism, and thus the instrumentalism and the hyper-focus on schooling that pervades the field of education; it is not simply a critique of behaviorism and quantification.
1) On one side, many liberals repudiated the Deweyan instrumentalism that had dominated liberal thought over the previous decades for the Christian realism of Reinhold Niebuhr, while conservatives moved toward adopting the premodern tradition of metaphysical realism as their own.
Instrumentalism is roughly the position that scientific terms are nothing but conventional verbal devices serving a particular function.
I am arguing, rather, that by endorsing and even fostering a pervasive instrumentalism, we help create conditions in which cheating is likely to be common.
Horror, then, is the response to the Earth as a body of scars, contorted on the wrack of post-Enlightenment instrumentalism.
The conflict between human values on the one hand and instrumentalism, vocationalism and professionalism on the other is very clear.
Instrumentalism is a type of modernism that sees ethnic identity and solidarity as conditions induced to achieve real goals such as wealth and power.